Confessional Fridays: I like blogging better…

… than most real life interactions. It’s startling but true. Lately I just can’t seem to dredge up any enthusiasm for the “hello, how ya doing” of daily life. I feel I have less and less in common with my “real friends” as I build stronger connections with my blogging buddies. Every conversation I have with a new “mom friend” is the same and I’m impatient to get past the pleasantries to meatier, more interesting topics. Basically I’ve become somewhat bored with my “real life” relationships while my blogging community continues to captivate me.

Three recent posts (the first on struggling with the niceties by Bloodsigns, one on adult relationships by amoment2think and the other by Mo on her virtual persona) have inspired me to examine my own relationship to the blog world and how it affects my satisfaction with my IRL friends. Hopefully in doing so I will better understand why I feel so comfortable projecting myself on my blog and can cultivate what feel like such deep and meaningful relationships through that writing but find almost all of my in real life friendships sorely lacking.

** Before I start I want to include a disclaimer. I take at least partial, if not full, responsibility for any dysfunction of past friendships. I am not so self-centered as to assume it’s ALL my past friends and not me. **

First a little background. My close IRL friendships have consistently been marked with a certain quality, that of me wanting more from my friends than they were able or willing to give. My whole life I’ve also been drawn to writing. Filling journals with my thoughts got me through my tumultuous teens and twenties, which were filled with diagnosed depression, anxiety and eating disorder issues. In a way writing became my best friend, it was the only place I could be completely honest.

Then started TTC. None of my friends were on that path yet, and many weren’t sure if they ever would walk it. They couldn’t fathom my impatience or anxiety and understandably had very little to contribute to a conversation on the topic of family building. After my loss the distance that was already growing between me and my friends increased exponentially. I felt they didn’t understand my pain and were unable to give me the support I needed (though I wonder now if it was actually I who lacked the ability to ask for what I needed). While my friends lacked the language of loss, I lacked the language of normal life. I was so devastated by my own pain that I was unable to support my friends or celebrate with them. Once again I retreated into myself.

Two months after my ectopic I started this blog at the urging of some “friends” on my TTC After Loss board. Suddenly the journal writing that had once been my lonely emotional outlet was a connection to other women who wrote and responded not because they felt obligated by friendship but because what I said was relevant to their own experiences. Our common stories and interests bonded us together so effortlessly, the physical distance (and lack of physical contact) between us felt negligible.

As I wrote more I gained skill and confidence. I began enjoying writing for the simple experience of it. My blog evolved from a daily journal into a platform to discuss issues I cared about. Eventually I was tacking complex topics like motherhood, family, friendship, personal identity and I was writing not only or myself but for my readers.

Around this time I really started participating on other people’s blogs. Inspired by the intriguing posts of my fellow writers I fashioned careful responses  to their thought provoking questions. I began to take part in the on-line conversation. Blogging became my intellectual outlet; one that allowed me to consider, and comment critically on, issues and with other smart, like-minded, well-spoken women. This is what drew me in every day, the community of women who shared my interests and had the passion and drive to participate in intellectual conversations about them.

When you have the opportunity to read a well written essay on a topic that inspires you (and by an author you respect) and then can participate in a conversation inspired by that essay, the every day shooting-the-shit kind of conversations pale in comparison.

Over time I think I’ve become addicted not only to the arena of the blogosphere but also the medium of writing. When I write I have the time to think about what I intend to say and articulate my thoughts just so; there are few mistakes and I rarely misspeak. I love being able to say whatever I want in whatever way I want to say it. I don’t have to worry about the person across from me being interested or having a common experience. If they do they can keep reading (and hopefully comment), if not they can move on.  On my blog the constrictions of “real life” interactions don’t apply. I am free.

Of course other, positive, aspects of real life interactions also don’t apply. No one responds immediately to what I say. Without a face to face conversation the organic back and forth that fosters new insight and deeper understanding is lost. The topic can’t change spontaneously to something distinct but equally wonderful and thought provoking. In the end I can’t share a hot tea with someone sitting in front of their computer, reading something I wrote hours or even days before.

The best of both worlds is to sit across from a fellow blogger whom I know and love. I’ve done this before and it’s truly magical; the resulting exchange is the best of both worlds. Unfortunately no bloggers live close enough to see frequently, which means most of the time I have to settle for people I haven’t “read”, who take time and effort to get to know and might not want to talk about whatever might be swirling around in my head. In fact, we might not share any common interests whatsoever. In blogland anyone who shares my interests, anywhere in the world can be my friend. In real life I have to find someone who lives near me and happens to be passionate about that which inspires me. The laws of statistics and probability dictate the chances are much smaller of finding a “true friend” in real life.

So what is a girl to do? Obviously the blogosphere provides a community that I find both socially and intellectually satisfying. I will continue to participate in that discourse through comments and my own posts. I also believe I can’t live solely in this online space. I need to go out and meet other women and I know I would cherish finding a true friend I could see frequently. This will take some time (and might never happen) but I’m willing, and able, to put in the hours and the effort. I’m willing to make the attempt. Hopefully, someday, I can find a healthy balance between my blog life and my “real” life, one where I can express myself honestly and passionately in both.

What do you love about our blogging community? Do you ever prefer the blogosphere over real life social interactions? 

19 responses

  1. Great post, as usual. My interactions with bloggy friends are much easier than my interactions with non-bloggers. I just wrote a long post about partly this, but also how to interact with the non-bloggy friends. I’ll be curious about your thoughts 🙂

    • I loved your post! I love how one really relevant topic inspires us all to explore what it means to us, as we weave each other’s insights with our own. This is why I love the blogosphere!

  2. I met my husband online, for similar reasons (statistical probability of people in my geographic area/network sharing common interests). 😉

    But yes, I find that I’m feeling more like my fellow bloggers are my friends these days … I’ve sent shipments of muffins and cookies and things across the country, wishing I were next door. I’ve always had a hard time making friends, it seems … too “nerdy” for kids when I was in school, too “abstract” for the moms on my street. The easiest time I had making friends was in college, when people like me were collected into a program and stuck on a floor to live together.

    On the other hand, I also feel like I am not quite “good enough” to be friends with some of the bloggers I read … it’s like I don’t ask the kinds of probing questions they ask (actually, I rarely ask questions at all), like I do too much navel-gazing, like I don’t read enough books any more. This is probably my inferiority complex speaking, but where it ends up is me being stuck in the middle, nursing a very lonely latte. 😉

    I really appreciated jjiraffe’s posts this week about Deepak Chopra’s responses to her questions … I need to work on focusing less on the “I” and more on the “we,” despite the fact that I got into this because of the “we” in the first place …

    (and now I’m rambling …)

    • I think it’s interesting that you feel you’re not quite “good enough” to be friends with some of the bloggers you read because obviously you are. I find myself falling into the “popularity” comparison aspect of blogging sometimes. I check out how many subscribers my fellow bloggers have (sometimes hundreds!) on google reader. I wonder why they are so much more “popular” than I am. But then I remember that I’m already getting what I want out of my blog. I have found writers that I respect very much (like you!) who inspire me and support me. That is all I want. And I definitely don’t want to drag my insecurities into my blogging experience, causing me to make assumptions that are probably not true. I think you’re right, we all have to focus on the “we” aspect of our community – that is what makes us truly impressive.

  3. Ok, I have the total opposite “problem” if you can call it that- I have the most wonderful in-real-life friends but I actually am really jealous of people I see having these great blog-friendships. There’s something about interaction just through written words that is so intriguing.

    • Interesting. I am so jealous of your wonderful in-real-life friends! The grass is always greener, right? You’re right, there is something so intriguing about the written world. But there is also something so validating, and comforting, about having a friend near you care and show that they care. That is a truly amazing gift.

  4. I’ve been considering a similar conflict. I began my blog as a sort of ‘baby book’ for my son, but have started fleshing it out as a place for my own thoughts and struggles. Unfortunately, I publicized my blog amongst family and friends, and now I have a hard time allowing myself to be real – about the heartache from the fight I had with my husband or the struggles I have being a FTM or whatever – to the people at my family reunion, or the ones sitting down the pew from me at church.

    Sometimes I wonder if my blog wouldn’t be stronger if I were able to post more anonymously… but the truth is probably more that my IRL relationships would be stronger if I allowed myself to be vulnerable no matter who was reading.

    • Hmmm. I think my blog would be a very different place if I knew family was reading it. It’s one thing to want to be more honest with them and it’s another to share everything with them. Have you ever thought about starting another, anonymous blog? Maybe then you could see if it felt better to write there too. I know other bloggers who have a “family update” blog and an anonymous blog and post on both regularly. Good luck!

  5. Something that you said here really struck a chord. The “language of loss”. The one thing that I think I kind of failed to acknowledge in my post is the fact that the mere act of writing automatically made me open up more about my feelings in real life. Most importantly, it actually gave me the tools and the words to express my sadness to the people around me. For example, I find myself using words and tools I have gained through this community to explain how I feel to my mother. I think that in this case, the act of READING other people’s thoughts gave me a deeper insight into how to communicate my own grief and sense of loss. I have found, that at least in some of my real life relationships, the “language of loss” that I have learned here, through my fellow bloggers, have allowed me to better communicate my situation to those around me. Does that make sense?

    • That does make sense. I also find that writing helps me process how I’m feeling – sometimes I start a post assuming I want to say one thing and as I write I realize I’m saying (and feeling) a different thing altogether. Writing allows that while I feel like discussions don’t as much. And you’re right, by reading others articulate their journey it helps us articulate our own.

      I think it is so special that you have IRL friends that read your blog. I gave my blog address to my three best girlfriends when it started and they never read or commented on it, that I know of. Maybe they started to but they eventually stopped. And they never commented. The only time I knew they read it was when they attacked me for something I said about them on it. Needless to say we are not as close anymore and I struggle to define my relationships with them knowing that they had access to a better understanding of me and choose not to pursue it. During NIAW I posted my miscarriage piece on Facebook and not one of my college friends commented on it (though one girl friend did email me about and we had a dialogue on gchat about it). Still, that is pretty telling. I have at least a dozen close college friends on Facebook and not one chose to say something to me about it. Are they just uncomfortable and don’t know what to say? Do they think I should just get over it already? I have no idea because they choose to stay silent, which hurts me very much. I know my blog friends would never not comment on a post like that. And that is the difference. I feel like my blog friends care enough to read and it and know how to respond to it. My IRL friends at least don’t do one, I’m guessing they don’t do either.

  6. I love this post and so relate to what you said. The people in my real life all seemed to let me down when I needed them the most. It wasn’t until I found this place that I could finally start putting the pieces back together.

    • I couldn’t start putting the pieces back until I found this place too. I just wallowed in my grief for months and then I started this blog and even though few people read it for a while, just the writing helped me so much. Now I don’t know what I’d do without this space and this community. It’s funny, yesterday I met up with Bodega Bliss and Too Many Fish To Fry and we were talking about all our blogging buddies like we all knew each other, like we were a big group. It was fascinating to see how easily we spoke about everyone, because we all “know” everyone. It’s a very interesting thing.

  7. I love this post… I think it speaks to so many of us.

    When we started TTC, none of my friends were having babies, so we felt like the odd ones out. Then when we struggled with IF, we felt a disconnect from everyone who was TTC and was succeeding. Sometimes now, it’s still isolating, because we’re the only couple in our group of friends with a child (and another on the way). We don’t share the freedom and spontaneity that our friends do. At least I don’t. My husband still does.

    I never got a chance to comment on your last several posts (Which I really enjoyed reading, BTW– they gave me such an amazing glimpse into your heart and how you’re feeling.), but I wanted to say that even the healthiest of relationships (and I wouldn’t classify mine that way) go through a real struggle when a baby comes into the picture. When my husband gets invited to do something, he commits without hesitation. He’s even said that he “forgets” we have a child sometimes. (?!?) I can never make plans with friends, family or husband without thinking through a plan for my son: Is it appropriate for him to come along? Do I want him to come along? Will my parents mind watching him for us? Can we afford to pay a babysitter this week? For me, it’s an endless stream of questions, while my husband is assertive with his answers. It’s caused some pretty serious resentment– I guess that’s part of his adjustment period, kind of like your husband.

    But back to the friends– I don’t have any friends (locally) that are a perfect fit for where I am in my life. I have amazing and wonderful friends who share my interests and are fascinating and smart and fun to be around, but none are moms, so they can’t identify with that (huge) aspect of my life. Likewise, I have a group of “mom friends” that I have very little in common with, other than the fact that we have children. It’s extremely frustrating to have to compartmentalize my life all of the time.

    Which brings me to the beauty of blogging. I’m not limited by geography to find friends who are in the same place I am. By nature, we’re all communicators who show ourselves through our writing. If I don’t connect with someone, I stop reading. There’s no pressure to come up with topics to talk about, there’s no expectation of immediate responses and for many of the women I communicate with, we share the bond of being part of the ALI community… which is impossible to understand unless you’ve been there yourself.

    Still, it would be nice to grab a cup of coffee with someone you feel a true connection with, every once in a while…

    • “It’s extremely frustrating to have to compartmentalize my life all of the time.” I totally understand where you’re coming from here. I have exactly the same experience. When I am with my older friends, who don’t have kids, I’m constantly censoring out the motherhood part of me (which these days doesn’t leave a whole hell of a lot, sadly). Then with my few “mom” friends, who I don’t even know well enough to say whether we have anything in common, it’s only ever about motherhood and our kids. Everything is very compartmentalized and it’s incredibly frustrating.

      Here is the only place I can be whole and share every part of me.

      Thanks for the kind and understanding words about relationship issues. I had a great therapy session today and she gave me some wonderful advice which I took and has helped immensely. I will write more about it on Tuesday.

  8. I’m not quite as immersed in the blogosphere at this point but I can completely understand this. I think it comes down to mostly two things: vulnerability and time. We are completely vulnerable on our blogs (indeed the need for a place to let down our barriers is probably one of the reasons why many people blog) and this lends itself to real connections with others. It’s so much more difficult to allow ourselves the same vulnerability in real life. I find that I wait to become close to someone before allowing myself to open up truly but the irony is that opening up is the best way to be close to others. It’s tough stuff!

    The other thing that strikes me as extremely important is time. I am fortunate to have some wonderful friends in the area but everyone is so busy that it’s a miracle when we manage to see each other and there is never time to really be involved in each other’s lives. Another wonderful thing about blogging is that your community is essentially always there. You find them every time you log on and you communicate them whenever you find a spare moment.

    I think the need for community and the difficulty building viable ones into our modern lifestyles is the real reason I chose the blogging identity that I did. I have this wish that we could just slow down a bit and get to know each other better. I don’t actually think that we need to have the same experiences to connect with others, just time and a willingness to understand (I know, very kubaya of me!).

  9. I can relate to this post in so many ways. Since starting my blog 2 years ago, I have let my IRL friendships fall by the wayside. I appreciate my blog friends so much more than I do my friends that I see on a regular basis. Since having Kaitlin, I can’t relate to many of the other mothers that I meet and I am certain it’s because I don’t feel as though I know them as well as I do my IF blog mothers.

  10. I have zero in-real-life true friends. Not a single soul I could call if I needed to chat or a shoulder to lean on. I’m not a good friend. And I never really have been. I keep in touch with one childhood friend but he’s the guy that introduced Nav and I and really Nav is the one that maintains the contact. I only talk to him when the phone gets shoved in my ear. All of our friends are really Nav’s friends. He’s been best buddies with most of them since elementary school. They are deeply entwined together. But at the same time we are the outsiders because of the Air Force and living so far away. He’s the one that makes the effort to contact them and makes the friendship a priority.

    And truthfully, I’m not sure that I have any real blogging friends. I comment and they comment back but we don’t email or talk on the phone or do those things friends do. But I’m okay with that. I blog because I want to write my words down not necessarily for the feedback, but don’t get me wrong, I love the comments too.

    I’d love to have IRL friends. I feel like the only person on my island in the middle of the sea at times. I’m not even sure where one begins to find a “friend”.

  11. The only thing better than blogging and interacting with other bloggers online is meeting them in person :). I spent three hours with a fellow blogger and adoptive mom this morning, and it was heaven! I feel very lucky to know all these women online and now in real life that have been through similar struggles and understand :). It’s pretty awesome. It kinda makes my real-life friends less…I don’t know…real. As if they only know the surface me and we’ll never get beyond that.

  12. What a really thought-provoking post. I guess my feeling is that some of the balance is out of our hands. Either you don’t find your tribe online or you don’t find your friends living close by. It’s wonderful when it works out, but sometimes you can’t get that balance regardless of how hard you try.

    That said, I have great friendships that may have started online, but the people have stepped through the screen. They come to visit or we meet up at BlogHer or we Skype. There are very real people on the other end of those computers.

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